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Texas laws and information concerning HID lights

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Old 03-25-2010, 06:39 AM   #1
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Texas laws and information concerning HID lights

I am a peace officer in Texas and have been trying to get some information together for the state laws concerning HID retrofits and their legallity. The topic has come up with others before and I did not know the specifics so I did my best to educate myself. So far this is what I have come up with. If there is anything you can add or correct please let me know.

HID Kits are illegal to SELL as DOT approved for steet use due to FEDERAL regualtion and none of the kits that use HID bulbs to replace standard halogen bulbs in a halogen housing should have a DOT seal or marking. DOT does not approve or disapprove headlight components. It is strictly up to the manufacturer to certify that they meet the federal DOT specs, which none of them do since the HID light source is a different position, size, and shape than the halogen filament the housing was designed for. The fact it plugs into a standard housing for H1 or H3 halogen bulbs is not relevant.

That said, there are no longer any headlight aiming requirements for inspection since the 90s in Texas. There are only laws for headlight height and distance they must illuminate (150 ft). They cannot be red in color and they must be functional and condensation free. This makes it perfectly legal to use HIDs that are blinding other motorists on high beam since all HID set ups in halogen reflector housings do this when adjusted to give the driver a good view of the road ahead. They can be as bright as you want, any color temerature as you want, and as blinding as you want ON HIGH BEAM. There are no TEXAS LAWS preventing use if adjusted correctly and only federal laws preventing sale for street use. The only statute that covers aiming states your low beams must illuminate at 150 feet minimum and not project the high intensity portion of the beam into oncoming driver's eyes. This only applies to the low beams.

Driving lights and fog light have no aiming requirements for inspection and are not tested as part of the Texas inspetion process. They have no color or disance requirements but cannot be red in color. This makes HID driving and fog light retrofits also completely legal for inspection purpposes.

Instead of putting HIDs in a halogen reflector housoing, it is much more responsible to do an HID projector retrofit that uses the entire projector assebly and D2S bulbs from an OEM manufacturered HID projector set up so that you do not blind other drivers and have a sharp cut off line at the top of your low beams; however, such kits are 3-4X more expensive than a plug and play kit and require custom installation. The up side is that the D2S bulbs and improved distribution of light can put over twice the usabale light on the road an HID kit that replacs the halogen bulb in a factory housing will project.

Likewise, using propper color temperature bulbs such as 4100-5000K will produce the maximum lumen output. For example, a 6000K bulb only puts out about 2/3 the lumens of a 4300K bulb, all else being equal. The higher the color temperature above 6000K, the lower the lumen output and the more glare the driver will see in foggy/rainy conditions. All OEM factory HID systems will range between 4-5K temperature for this reason.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:07 AM   #3
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Good to know, thanks for the info.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:41 AM   #4
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Now I do see these particular laws as possibly not allowing the HID retrofit...

§ 547.004. GENERAL OFFENSES. (a) A person commits an
offense that is a misdemeanor if the person operates or moves or, as
an owner, knowingly permits another to operate or move, a vehicle
that:
(1) is unsafe so as to endanger a person;
(2) is not equipped in a manner that complies with the
vehicle equipment standards and requirements established by this
chapter; or
(3) is equipped in a manner prohibited by this
chapter.

COMBINED WITH

§ 547.3215. USE OF FEDERAL STANDARD. Unless specifically
prohibited by this chapter, lighting, reflective devices, and
associated equipment on a vehicle or motor vehicle must comply
with:
(1) the current federal standards in 49 C.F.R. Section
571.108; or
(2) the federal standards in that section in effect,
if any, at the time the vehicle or motor vehicle was manufactured.


Now the federal standard does not allow for HID with halogen reflectors to be used as they source of replacement bulb light must be halogen for halogen lights and xenon for xenon lights. This would seem to counter the idea that the retrofit is legal. It would also make it an arrestable offense since its not one of the two traffic citations that you cannot be instantered for (speeding and open container).
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:32 AM   #5
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OK contacted DPS and got the following answer.

Under Motor Vehicle Code § 547.3215. USE OF FEDERAL STANDARD. Drivers are required to meet federal standards in 49 CFR Sec 571.108. This makes crrent HID retrofits in Halogen housings NOT meet the beam pattern requirements for replacement lamps. The propper ticket to write is one of the following for those using HIDs in halogen housings.

HEAD LAMP(S) GLARING, NOT ADJUSTED

or

FAIL TO USE PROPPER HEADLIGHT BEAM

They could not answer if OEM projector retrofits were legal and only reffered to 49 CFR Sec 571.108 and stated if it was legal there is was legal to use. As far as I know OEM retrofits should completely comply with Federal Regualtions. They had to in order to be put in OEM applications to begin with.
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Old 03-29-2010, 06:53 PM   #6
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Great info. I just completed my retro, after driving around for about 2 years with just the PnP kit. Trying to do the right thing and not blind other motorists.
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Old 04-01-2010, 12:04 PM   #7
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In my department noone knew if PnP HIDs were legal. Everyone had a suspicion something must not be legal but noone could tell me why. One officer even runs PnP in his personal vehicle and was suprised to find out that it was not legal and that a ticket could be written for it.

I started using PnP for probable cause for pulling people over the past week. I dont actually write tickets for it but I have been stopping people and giving warnings. I have not been wrong about a single PnP install I have pulled over and have actually found people with warrants and other things based off those stops. Pretty much the concensus was...

Noone knew they were not legal for street use.

No officer has pulled them over before, even with years of running PnP HIDs.

The guy who sold it to them (usually in a flea market) said it was street legal. (It is NOT)

Some people bought the car with PnP installed by a previous owner and did not even know they were not stock.

People are pretty ignorant about HIDs. I tell them it is not DOT legal for a Xenon light source to be used in a Halogen housing and they say "they are not Xenon they are HIDs." Yeah... Xenons are HIDs.

Even with my explaining and providing a 100+ page packet to use to take to traffic court if any officer wanted to write tickets for HID PnP kits and a list of all the vehciles that had HIDs as a factory option (you dont want to be pulling over BMW, Lexus, etc since they are factory and legal) no officer will do it because it is too complex and technical of an issue for them to grasp and relate to a judge or jury easily... except the officer who runs them in his own car and he feels guilty about writing a ticket for something he runs in his own car so he wont stop people for it.

I have never heard of anyone, in any department, writing a ticket for PnP headlights, even though it is not legal.
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Old 04-01-2010, 12:13 PM   #8
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Thanks for the post
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:31 AM   #9
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I wish searching google for information and this thread was one of the first that came up under my search terms. I do not have a Tacoma, but I do have an FJ Cruiser which is a similar vehicle with the 4.0L V6, Prado frame, and light truck parts. Sorry for resurrecting an old post but I really wanted to respond to it from a law breakers point of view.

I run Xenon bulbs in my truck, they require ballasts to operate. However, I would never allow them to be called HID lamps in front of an officer. They are Xenons. They differ from Halogens in many ways, but most of all in the gas in the glass vial that allows them to operate. It is Xenon gas. These are Xenon bulbs. The Federal department of transportation DOT certifies bulbs filled with xenon gas, it's just that these particular bulbs don't have a stamp. The stamp certified that certain bulbs meet a minimum requirement for construction and lifespan to receive a DOT label, not exceeding it, which is why some halogens are brighter than other.

Some LEOs seem to believe that simply because something is not explicitly illegal, that that it is implicitly illegal. I believe that is wrong. I bought Xenon bulbs, the kind with the ballasts, not because they were pretty or a different color, but because I truely feel like they help me see better and safer at night. If I was actually ticketed for running these bulbs I would hire a traffic lawyer to attempt to defend myself in traffic court, which would probably end up with it dropped on a technicality anyways.

However, I do have a defense against LEOs arguments of morality on using Xenon bulbs.

Quote:
§ 547.004. GENERAL OFFENSES. (a) A person commits an
offense that is a misdemeanor if the person operates or moves or, as
an owner, knowingly permits another to operate or move, a vehicle
that:
(1) is unsafe so as to endanger a person;
(2) is not equipped in a manner that complies with the
vehicle equipment standards and requirements established by this
chapter; or
(3) is equipped in a manner prohibited by this
chapter.
Number 2. All the specifications are a set minimum of functionality. These bulbs do illuminate 150 feet in front of the vehicle. I am complying.

Number 3. These Xenon bulbs are not explicitly prohibited in the traffic code.

Quote:
§ 547.3215. USE OF FEDERAL STANDARD. Unless specifically
prohibited by this chapter, lighting, reflective devices, and
associated equipment on a vehicle or motor vehicle must comply
with:
(1) the current federal standards in 49 C.F.R. Section
571.108; or
(2) the federal standards in that section in effect,
if any, at the time the vehicle or motor vehicle was manufactured.
The federal standard is a minimum for functionality. These bulbs meet the minimum standards, I can prove it with a photograph comparing the light patterns. I would show you it as evidence of the lights working properly.

Quote:
HID Kits are illegal to SELL as DOT approved for steet use due to FEDERAL regualtion and none of the kits that use HID bulbs to replace standard halogen bulbs in a halogen housing should have a DOT seal or marking. DOT does not approve or disapprove headlight components. It is strictly up to the manufacturer to certify that they meet the federal DOT specs, which none of them do since the HID light source is a different position, size, and shape than the halogen filament the housing was designed for. The fact it plugs into a standard housing for H1 or H3 halogen bulbs is not relevant.
The DOT sets a minimum specification for which bulbs must reach. That is why they have a DOT stamp. The lenses of your vehicle are also DOT stamped, meaning they meet a minimum specification. Putting a non-DOT stamped bulb in a DOT lens, does not make a DOT lens suddenly illegal. It just means the bulbs hasn't gone through the same DOT certification process to insure minimum specs.

However, bulbs ONLY emit light, they do not aim light, they do not direct light. They emit light. If a bulb emits more light than another bulb, it's irrelevant as the same reflectors and lens are present.

OK contacted DPS and got the following answer.

Under Motor Vehicle Code § 547.3215. USE OF FEDERAL STANDARD. Drivers are required to meet federal standards in 49 CFR Sec 571.108. This makes crrent HID retrofits in Halogen housings NOT meet the beam pattern requirements for replacement lamps. The propper ticket to write is one of the following for those using HIDs in halogen housings.

Quote:
HEAD LAMP(S) GLARING, NOT ADJUSTED

or

FAIL TO USE PROPPER HEADLIGHT BEAM

They could not answer if OEM projector retrofits were legal and only reffered to 49 CFR Sec 571.108 and stated if it was legal there is was legal to use. As far as I know OEM retrofits should completely comply with Federal Regualtions. They had to in order to be put in OEM applications to begin with.
The DPS likes to make up it's own laws. I would show a picture of a headlight aim pattern on a wall. Proving my lights are aimed to my vehicle specs. Then I would cite the fact headlight aiming hasn't been a part of state safety inspections since the 90's.

If they wrote me a ticket for Failure to use proper (PROPPER is not a word) I would show them my high beam indicator was off on the side of the road. Then show them that there is difference between my high and low beams. Than ask them in court if I demonstrated the functionality of my beam indicator in court and if I demonstrated the difference of my low and high beams in court. There nothing I can do if an Peace officer lies in court, as it is his word against mine, all I can do is state my intentions in running these bulbs as good. And that from my knowledge of the law, it is not illegal.

A LEO is not a lawyer, and neither am I. It's up to the courts to decide whether a law was actually broken when it's a grey area like this. I have done a lot more research on this than most LEOs, my ballast powered Xenon bulbs are bright, but properly aimed (even though that is irrelevant by Texas state law)

I would encourage peace officers not to waste their time, tax payer's money, and the driver's time, by writing tickets for something that is not explicitly illegal. Theres not a full proof defense but theres not full proof that a law has been broken. DPS tries to cite you for laws you did not break, and then uses their word against yours in court. However, I think most of the time they are concerned with laws that you DID actually break, like speeding and the like, and will only cite you for equipment along with a truly broken law, so you can't defend against all charges.

I've actually kind of lost my enthusiasm for this subject now.

I can give you these tips, if stopped by police specifically for your headlamps.

1. If the LEO stops asks you about them. Refer only to your bulbs as Xenons bulbs, not HIDs.

2. Make a note if the police officer actually checks for a DOT stamp on your bulbs.

3. If a police officer cites you for glare or high beams, demonstrate your high beam indicator functionality (this is the actually safety inspection check item) and if you have Bi-Xenons (and you should) demonstrate that theres a difference between high and low beam. Do not argue with him though. If he declines to observe, you can bring this fact up in court later.

4. If you're going to fight it: write down everything that happens right then and there while it is fresh in your mind. Keep your hazards on, find a piece of paper and pen, and start writing. Write down if he looked for a DOT stamp, write down if he pulled you over for improper equipment, write down he if observed your high beam functionality. Write down where he was when he first detected you. It could be months before you can get a court date, and if you get a traffic attorney, they'll want specifics.

5. Generally if you're out of state, police in other states wont pull you over for improper equipment thats in a grey area. If they do, remember that you are legally inspected as far as Texas is concerned, and that there is no Texas law (yet) specifically prohibiting Xenon bulbs. You can not be expected to know every traffic code everywhere, other states has you respect the laws of your state. Exception being with area that posts signs prohibiting certain things. Like Virginia and radar detectors. Areas with posted noise ordinances versus the use of engine brakes and loud stereos and the like. Never seen a sign prohibiting Xenon bulbs before.

6. These stops waste peoples time. The LEO might not show up for court because he has better things to do. However, you need to be prepared for if his does. You have taken an interest in the law, and have researched it to the point where you believe your actions are not explicitly illegal. You are also using Xenon bulbs for increases safety by being more visible and being able to see the road and obstacles better. A police officer that stops you for 'Improper Beam' or the like, if it's obvious you didn't break that law, he is betting on you not wanting to waste time fighting it, which is a fair point. However, if you waste his time in court, and prove that you were attempting to follow the law as best as possible, he might not issue such useless citations in the future. Even if you lose, you are in the right, you might be able to dispute the judgement if it's against you. It's all just a matter of how much time and money you want to spend to be in the right.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:42 AM   #10
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:41 PM   #11
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We had an update to our ticket system. We have a new entry specifically for non DOT approved lights and reflectors. PnP HID set ups fall under this. The ticket is for:

USE EQUIPMENT NOT APPROVED (HEADLIGHTS, REFLECTORS, ETC.)

We have STEP based overtime so we have to write tickets as traffic uits to qualify for overtime. Still this is the least common ticket. Id estimate people get 10X as many tickets for no license plate light and no front plate.
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:20 PM   #12
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Do people really think someone with a "neat idea" and a $30 poorly made Chinese part can best the likes of highly paid smarty-pants engineers at Stanley and Hella, using nifty hi-tech gadgets?

Lighting isn't just what you perceive. Take a look sometime into "isolux". It is a diagram that is used to determine the actual lighting output and pattern. Photos really don't show the true effectiveness of lighting, and the human eye is actually a "bad judge of what it can see" (quote from a well-known lighting engineer).

Certainly, there are areas of improvement over factory lighting. There are superior lighting systems that do not meet DOT regulations. However, most of these require careful planning and research to accomplish. You can get better lighting without harming other drivers.

Another reason to reconsider HID/Xenon kits is that they can easily give the perception of greater lighting. They provide substantially more foreground lighting. This is partly due to their higher output, but also partly due to the vastly changed pattern. What this can cause is distance-blindness. Either they are not putting out light at a distance, or they are actually causing your vision to not be able to see past the overpowered foreground. At highway speeds, you don't need foreground lighting. If you don't see it by the time it is that close, it's too late anyway.

If you notice, with standard halogen on the Tacoma, the foreground reduces considerably when the high beams are on. I used to drive with my fog lights on (halogen) on the highway, but noticed my eyes were drawn to the light--right in front of the truck instead of down the road where it needs to be.
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Old 03-19-2011, 02:57 PM   #13
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Oh and there is no such thing as a DOT approved H1, H3, H anything bulb. The officer does not need to see that there are no DOT markings (there are not) because they are explicitly NOT approved by nature of being what they are. An H1 bulb has specific requirements... like filament size and location, base dimensions, etc. A Xenon bulb with an H1 base does not meet those specs... therefore it is not approved. You certainly are required to know all light and reflector laws when you change your lights or reflectors. Thinking those lights Joe has "look cool all blue and bright and shit" is not adequate. If you dont want to know those laws and dont want to research them dont change your lights and reflectors. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Still the risk is small. If you get caught, like with too dark tint, you pay your fine and move on in life.
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:23 PM   #14
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I signed up for this forum just to ask a couple questions on this thread (I don't have a Tacoma).

I'm currently in Florida, but will likely be moving the Texas this summer and both my wife's Ford Escape (H13 Halogen bulbs) and my Scion tC (H11 Halogen bulbs in a projector housing) have HID PnP conversions. In both cases, the replacement Xenon bulbs maintain the same light pattern. I swapped out 1 bulb and checked side-by-side down the road, against a wall, standing down the road, etc. For the Escape with a regular halogen bulb housing, the cutoff line became more distinct, with less bleedover to oncoming traffic while still providing more light down the road.

My question is really, where do I find the list of approved bulbs? If I buy replacement halogen bulbs from PIAA or Sylvania or even Wal-Mart, how do I know they are really on the approved list? I read, kinda, the DOT law on lighting (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_20...cfr571.108.pdf), but I couldn't gleen any useful information from it.

I'm aware a citation will stick based on the letter of the law rather than the intent of it, but I can't find where it says all aftermarket Xenon bulbs are "NOT approved" or even where it says only Halogen bulbs are approved.

Thanks!
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Old 11-23-2011, 10:30 PM   #15
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Cool

Thank you so much for the thread helps alot!! I was wondering if on halo projector lights you can run the eyebrows red and 3 little dots red?? Or would this cause for improper lighting by red fillers instead of blue im running 15000k on black halo projectors spec-D
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Old 11-23-2011, 10:58 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markus9u View Post
Thank you so much for the thread helps alot!! I was wondering if on halo projector lights you can run the eyebrows red and 3 little dots red?? Or would this cause for improper lighting by red fillers instead of blue im running 15000k on black halo projectors spec-D
Im pretty sure it is illegal to have any red lights on your vehicle facing forward. 15000K? Do those actually have any light output
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Old 11-24-2011, 12:20 PM   #17
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Talking

Any ideas because the lights are very small just LEDs.. hope they will be legal they look super sweet!
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Old 11-26-2011, 07:29 AM   #18
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Any forward facing light that is not white or amber is politely asking the police officer to pull you over.

I do have a question regarding the HID lights, I stopped and asked a state trooper about my HID offroad lights and he said as long as I didn't have any more then four forward facing lights I was not in the wrong, even if they were HID. My question is why would offroad lights be legal but not driving lights, my 50w lf 240's are brighter then any driving light I have ever seen.
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:09 AM   #19
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Many states have laws about how many forward lights you can have on your vehicle. This usually includes 2 headlights and 2 fog/driving lights. There are also generally rules about how they can operate and so forth.

In some states, I believe CA is one, you have to have solid covers on off-road lights.

Most driving lights can't be used in traffic, so they are equivalent to "off-road" lights.
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:58 PM   #20
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Alright thanks. Its just a bummer cause red rings and led lights would look super sweet mixed in with my 15000k hids .. Thanks for the help I might still run by the police station just to check the laws in Texas.
Yes i have gotten pulled over many times in different police districts for running 6 lights its a bummer I can see so much better with them all on. Im sure a cop will be pulling me over anytime soon just as a excuse to bust me for anything illegal....
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